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Early Intervention Speech Therapy

Using Items in the Home

Published September 12, 2014 7:57 AM by Stephanie Bruno-Dowling
If you are a therapist working in homecare, then you know the challenges of trying to use what the family has in their home during therapy sessions. In our county, therapists are encouraged to only use items that the family possesses in our therapy sessions. Years ago when I first began working in homecare this was not the case. In those days we were able to bring in various tools and toys, whatever we felt would be helpful, all in the hopes of eliciting appropriate speech and language skills.

Now that I have worked in both settings, I think both models have advantages and disadvantages. Most likely the ideal therapy model lies somewhere in the middle. Bring in items when you really need them such as to demonstrate a skill for a parent or to try something new. There are times when, as a therapist, you may want or need a specific tool/toy/device.  A little bit of balance goes a long way.

Now when I enter a home that has limited resources on a weekly basis, I rely on my own creativity. Many of the homes I am in have very few toys, if any at all, and the ones they do have are often broken or not age appropriate. It can be very challenging to find toys and items that interest the child and are safe and fun to play with. This daily reality has challenged me to do two things: 1. Make tools and give them to the family to keep and 2. Look around the room for items I can morph into something fun and engaging.

The following two items can be found in most homes in some capacity, even if they are a low income household. I've also offered a description of how you can use these items in your sessions:

A Mirror - Ask if the family has a small hand-held mirror or a small one hanging up. Any type of mirror will do and can be used to practice speech. The child can watch their mouth and see their reflection, giving them ideal visual feedback about their own oral anatomy and what it is capable of. 

Cups - Ask the family for some plastic cups which can be used as a microphone. Talk into the plastic cup and it will amplify your voice a bit, creating an echo. I use a cup often when I don't have access to a microphone. They can also be used as toys: stack them, hide things under or in them or turn them over and tap them with a spoon or spatula making some unique music.

Join me Tuesday for additional ideas and items you can use in homecare!

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My last two posts addressed the challenge of implementing items that families have in their home to support

September 19, 2014 9:11 AM

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About this Blog

    Stephanie Bruno Dowling, M.S. CCC-SLP
    Occupation: Speech-Language Pathologist
    Setting: Early Intervention in Delaware County, PA
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